One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

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Emma Blair married her high school love Jesse Lerner. Together they built a life that revolved around their shared love for travel and adventure. They may be living in a crappy apartment, and broke most of the time. But they were together, and doing the things they have always planned on doing together. Ever since that drunken night in high school when he told her how much he hated swimming, and how much she hated working in her parents’ bookstore, Jesse and Emma always knew that they were meant to fall in love, stay together for a long time, and eventually get married. That’s exactly what they did, and life was perfect.

Until one day, it wasn’t. Just a day before their first wedding anniversary, Jesse flew to Alaska for a work assignment. The helicopter he was flying in crashed somewhere in the North Pacific, killing all four people on board. Jesse’s body was never found, and he was tragically presumed dead.

Losing the love of her life nearly drove Emma insane. The pain was nothing she’d ever known. Then she realized that if she let herself hurt every single day, she would waste away the best years of her life. She made the decision to leave California and move back to her hometown of Acton, Massachusetts, to start all over again.

And then just like that, she meets her old friend Sam Kemper. And then just like that, Emma finds herself feeling genuinely happy, alive, and in love again. So happy, alive, and in love that when Sam asked her to marry him, yes was the only possible answer. Sam was perfect, and life was perfect.

Until, again, it wasn’t. Three and half years since that fateful day, Jesse Lerner has been found and was finally on his way back home to her. Forced in an impossible situation, Emma finds herself with two wonderful men she both loves desperately, and who love her back just as much.

Can a person ever really have more than one true love? Should she be with the man that she has loved all her life, or should she be with the man who made her believe in love again? Does she want to be the Emma that Jesse has always known, or does she like this new version of herself that Sam helped her to become?

Like with any Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, this is an emotional tale from start to finish. I love that it’s a quiet and beautiful story, one that you don’t even realize how much it hurts to read and see the whole story unfold. It’s not your typical love triangle wherein you can easily hate one and then love the other. It feels so real, and it will make you wonder what you’ll even do if you were ever in the same situation. It’s enough to drive a girl crazy having two great loves in your life at the same time. But having to make a choice on who stays? How can you even?

There are so many takeaways in this book. I highlighted so many lines, because they are just so simple yet stunning words. Always so deep and emotional, raw and honest. It’s beautiful and sad and happy, with an ending that feels just right. I agree that true love doesn’t always last. Sometimes you only just have to experience it to know that it’s real. Consider yourself really lucky if you end up with your true love, but count yourself even luckier if you find it twice in one lifetime.

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After You by Jojo Moyes

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Image from www.jojomoyes.com

After You picks up on the events that happened after Will Traynor’s death, which took place in the first book, Me Before You. Louisa Clark is still trying to find her way back into the real world, one without Will in it, but with all of his memories everywhere. She goes through life on autopilot; working her crappy pub job at the airport to pay the bills and buy the groceries, living in a colorless and lifeless London flat, and attending a grief support group called Moving On Circle once a week.

Everything in her life feels like a major letdown, and for once, she’s glad that Will is no longer around to see what has become of her. If that’s not depressing enough, she suffers a freak accident right in her own home, forcing her to stay with her parents in her hometown of Stortfold where more family drama awaits. Lou is so ready to accept her fate; that this is as good as it gets, and that she’s simply just not that person Will was convinced she could be.

And then one day, someone from Will’s past turns up at her door. Someone who could’ve possibly been one more reason for Will to want to live, if only they had met sooner. But this someone is even more messed up than Lou, and she finds herself asking: What would Lou have done?

For the first time in a long time, Lou finds a purpose.

What follows next is a rollercoaster of emotions as major life problems unravel and then get sorted out, families break up and make up, and broken hearts are mended and made whole again. Lou finally understands that she need not live in sadness and misery to keep Will alive in her heart forever.

Me Before You was what made me a big Jojo Moyes fan. It’s beautiful, sad, and heartbreaking, and I will forever remain a fan of Will and Lou’s love story. It was such a great book that didn’t need any follow-up book. However, if you know a second book exists out there, you just can’t ignore it. You can’t just not read it.

Overall, After You is not quite as beautiful as Me Before You, but it’s still a nice and entertaining read. For something that deals with grief and moving on, it didn’t feel dark and depressing. It’s actually light, positive, and even laugh out loud funny. Thank you to Ambulance Sam and the guys at the Moving On Circle. They pretty much saved this book for me. I loved the whole flirtation game with Ambulance Sam, and he’s just the kind of man who can get someone like Lou to start loving again.

The sudden appearance of that new major character plus the Clark and Traynor family drama just felt contrived, so I wasn’t too happy about those. I think this plot twist is just tired and too convenient. I would have enjoyed reading a story told from Will Traynor’s point of view, possibly his life before the accident, or his life while with Lou. That would have been loads better than this plot twist straight out of a daytime soap opera. This, however, doesn’t make me less of a Jojo Moyes fan.

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

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Like a cruel twist of fate, on the eve of what should have been her third year of being cancer-free, twenty-seven-year-old Daisy Richmond finds out that her cancer is back, and there’s lots of it. It’s not good. The cancer has spread to different parts of her body in a very rapid and aggressive manner. Doctors break the news that her stage four cancer will give her about four months. But the clinical trial can give her more, if she agrees to participate.

Having cancer, or dying of cancer, does not terrify Daisy anymore. She did everything to make sure the cancer did not come back, but still it did, so surely this must be her life’s course. It’s out of her hands now. What truly haunts her every waking moment is the thought of leaving her husband Jack behind.

Who will make sure that he’s eating right, that his dirty socks don’t pile up by the foot of the bed, that he gets the windows caulked, and that he doesn’t lose his keys? Who will hold his hand, kiss his face, and keep his bed warm? Who will make sure that he will finish his doctorate and graduate on time? These are the thoughts that keep Daisy awake at night and sick to her stomach. She cannot leave her kind and brilliant husband to his own devices. Jack will come apart at the seams when she’s gone. Daisy’s certain of it. And that’s the last thing she wants to happen.

It’s time to find him a new wife.

Daisy’s search for the perfect new wife will leave you feeling conflicted. At first, I thought it would be a cheesy drama with lots of hysterical tears in the end. There were tears, yes, but they were both happy and sad tears. Colleen Oakley’s “Before I Go” succeeded in striking a balance between heartbreak and hope, and joy and sadness. I didn’t bawl my eyes out, but I felt like there was something lodged in my throat most of the time, and I was blinking away hot tears before anybody could notice. It’s not your first choice of a book to read because of its gloomy subject, but the author had written the story in a way that is light, funny, and heartbreakingly real. More than the cancer, it focused on how this disease eats away at relationships, and how this disease can also bring people together. I loved that the book didn’t feel like a death sentence, but more of a bittersweet, melancholic, and thoughtful journey of a young and courageous woman, and it felt just right.

The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

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Tia is a young woman who fell in love with a charismatic, intelligent, but unavailable man. Their connection had been intense, and they were good together. But when it came right down to it, he couldn’t give her the happy ending that she desperately wanted. The love affair ended, and Tia was left to fend for herself and the baby inside her. She had no family, and she could barely take care of herself. How could she even raise an innocent little girl?

Caroline’s life had always been about her career as a pathologist and as a wife to her hardworking and successful entrepreneur husband. Theirs was a quiet and happy marriage. But as time went by, she realized that her husband wanted more. He wanted to have a child. Despite her uncertainty over her capability of raising a child, Caroline and her husband adopted Savannah to give her the good life that she deserved. A good life that her young, heartbroken, and messed up mother Tia clearly couldn’t.

Juliette had always been perfectly content to be a wife and a supermom, with a booming business on the side. But deep inside, she is still coming to terms with her husband’s infidelity. She thought she had forgiven him for his transgression, but there are just some things you could not let go that easily. Especially after you just opened a letter addressed to your husband with a photo of the little girl he had no idea was his daughter.

Three women whose lives are turned upside down by one man’s moment of weakness. Do they dare go take the path of least resistance and live in the comfort of lies? Or do they accept the painful reality and do the right thing, even if it breaks their families apart?

It was a good and okay story, which basically translates to “You can skip reading this book altogether and just grab yourself a suspense thriller that is this year’s Gone Girl”. Sadly, I’ve read too many ensemble stories like this one. I don’t like ensemble stories that much because more often than not, the characters are one-dimensional or just plain annoying. Just like the women in this book (especially Tia!). Instead of sympathizing with them for every heartbreak, and cheering them on for finally making the right decision (which they should have done years ago!), I really just wanted to show up at their doorsteps and wring their necks. They are the book characters that can really drive you to fling the book across the room in frustration.

These women are thrown into a whirlpool of conflict, but it was very hard to connect with them on an emotional level. I felt like an outsider the entire time, looking in like a nosy neighbor, wanting them to hurry up already and just get to the ending. We don’t want that! We want to be right there in the middle of the action, right inside those people’s heads. The Comfort of Lies is okay when it should have been emotional, and lukewarm when it should have been heartbreaking.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Twenty-nine-year-old Hannah Martin has lived in more cities than a normal twenty-nine-year-old woman would in her lifetime. Too many cities to count, and with no solid roots formed or real memories to cherish. It had to take an affair with a married man and a lashing from his vicious wife to convince her to just move back home to Los Angeles. It would be wonderful to reconnect with everybody. Especially with best friend Gabby, and her parents who practically raised Hannah when she was in high school. The idea did not sound so bad at all. So move back to L.A. Hannah did.

One beautiful night in the town, out with old high school friends and one very special high school ex-boyfriend that she never really stopped loving, Hannah finds herself at a crossroads of sorts. She has no clue how this is about to change everything.

The repercussions of Hannah’s seemingly simple decision are laid out in alternating chapters. Two storylines occurring simultaneously: one, had Hannah chosen to leave the party early, and two, had Hannah decided to stay behind and spend the night with Ethan.

In both alternate realities, Hannah comes to terms with her decisions and deals with the consequences for her and the people in her life. She is forced to grow up, build a home, and make a life for herself, whether she likes to or not. And along the way, she finally finds the real meaning of what it’s like to really be home.

From the same author that gave us “Forever, Interrupted” and “After I Do” comes another delightfully different, soul-crushingly romantic, smart and intriguing love story. It’s about parallel universes in the most unscientific, most romantic, most feel-good way possible.

Like her two previous novels, “Maybe In Another Life” is brilliantly crafted, emotional, and thought provoking. It’s an honest portrayal of life and love, and all of their certainties and uncertainties. Reading it felt like there’s a life coach talking in there, hiding somewhere between the pages. You will love Hannah, as well as the people she loves, even possibly share her obsessive love for cinnamon rolls and messy hair buns. It’s a happy tale that tells you that no matter which road you take, what decision you make, or which guy you choose, love and happiness are possible. Everything is a possibility.

“Everything that is possible happens. That means that when you flip a quarter, it comes down heads and tails. Not heads or tails. Every time you flip a coin and it comes up heads, you are merely in the universe where the coin came up heads. There is another version of you out there, created the second the quarter flipped, who saw it come up tails. Every second of every day, the world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes, where everything that could happen is happening. There are millions, trillions, or quadrillions, I guess, of different versions of ourselves living out the consequences of our choices. What I’m getting at is that I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices and they led me to somewhere else, led me to someone else. And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.”